Proceedings of the Zoological Society

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 75–85 | Cite as

Avian Jaw Function: Adaptation of the Seven–Muscle System and a Review

  • B. N. Bhattacharyya
Review Article


Avian jaw function is the most interesting part of the feeding apparatus, and essential in the life of birds. The usual seven jaw muscles in birds are highly adapted for diverse food-getting devices through muscular modifications as well as changes in kinesis of the skeletal components of the skull. In the first part I have described from an introspection of my earlier works, the functional morphology of the seven jaw muscles in different birds in four functional groups such as, adductors of the lower jaw, depressor of the lower jaw, protractors of the upper jaw and retractors-cum-adductors of the upper and lower jaws. Emphasis has been laid on the differential force production by these muscles, depending on the nature of their connective tissue attachments on the skeletal parts and changes in the kinesis of the skeletal parts. The contraction of the muscles and movements of the skeletal parts are rhythmically synchronized in such a way that their concerted action performs adaptively in different feeding adaptations. The differential force production by the one-joint and two-joint muscles in terms of ‘torque’ analysis is important in jaw kinesis. The second part of the text is a historical review of some notable works centred around the avian jaw muscles, jaw kinesis, tongue muscles, synchronization with the movements of the tongue apparatus and adaptational as well as evolutionary significance of the feeding apparatus in different feeding strategies.


Avian jaw muscles Jaw kinesis Torque analysis 



I thankfully acknowledge the help and assistance rendered by Professor Gautam Saha, Head of the Department of Zoology, Calcutta University for editing the manuscript and his students Paulami Sarangi and Rudra Das for drawing, labeling and scanning the sketches. I sincerely thank Professor Walter Bock of Columbia University, New York for valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Zoological Society, Kolkata, India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyBangabasi CollegeKolkataIndia
  2. 2.KolkataIndia

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